Written by Katie Adams and Andrea Moreno
Thinkery’s Guided Tours program supports our mission to create innovative learning experiences that equip and inspire the next generation of creative problem solvers. In a typical year, more than 20,000 students experience Thinkery through our Guided Tours program—that’s around 500 tours annually. We strive to make this experience accessible to all and offer discounted group admission to schools with Title I status. We even provide tours to groups of interested adults, too. Truly, anyone and everyone can play and learn at Thinkery!
So, what’s it like leading one of these Guided Tours? Tour guides Katie Adams and Andrea Moreno weigh in on their experience!
It’s 9:00 am. The sun is shining and for Thinkery tour guides, it’s almost tour time. Anticipation is in the air as we prep for arrivals, double-check schedules and finish the last sips of our coffee. It’s going to be a great day!
As tour guides, our very first task is to walk through the galleries and prepare the museum for visitors. We look for new and innovative ways to incorporate gallery components into our tours. As Thinkery continues to grow and expand, this time is also used to learn about new exhibits and enhancements, like the new Bernoulli Blower prototype in Spark Shop.
By 9:30 am, we are pumped and prepared for a day full of fun and learning. And what do you know? It’s already arrival time. Like clockwork, vans and busses appear. Introductions are made as smiling students and teachers safely unload and line up at Group Entry. As they pass through the doors of the museum, you can see their eyes sparkling with excitement—a feeling that truly never gets old.
It’s time to explore! Our tour groups follow a set 90-minute schedule that allows students to dig deep into science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM). We begin our Thinkery tour, discussing the key concepts of each museum area and encouraging students to playfully interact with the exhibits using their new knowledge.
As we move through the museum, tour groups explore Innovators’ Workshop, Light Lab, Spark Shop and Currents. Our youngest students—Pre-K and kindergarten—visit Fresh! Farmers’ Market, where we highlight the importance of healthy choices and habits. Students in Pre-K through second grade spend time in Story Nook, where we read stories and play games that engage both minds and bodies. 1st–5th grade students put their senses to the test in Kitchen Lab with our “What’s that Smell?” activity. In this exploratory exercise, Kitchen Lab leads guide students through using their olfactory bulbs to guess eight secret scents. We experience Space 8, our maker lab, with 3rd–5th grade students. Working together in teams, students create their own model mystery tubes. It’s incredibly empowering to see students using critical thinking skills in a truly collaborative environment.
As our tour comes to an end, we reflect on how much fun we’ve had and what we’ve discovered along the way. Time truly flies when you’re learning and exploring together. While we’re sad to see our students leave, we’re thrilled we were able to provide an engaging, educational and inclusive experience.
As you can see, being a Thinkery tour guide is incredibly rewarding. Our team combines diverse educational backgrounds and STEAM-related interests along with a shared passion for motivating students of all ages. We are continuously inspired by the students we lead through our tours and often find ourselves learning from them.
At Thinkery, we are cultivating curiosity and inspiring young minds one tour at a time. And we can’t wait for our next group to arrive!
Let’s explore together. This school year, explore Thinkery with your students. Requests for Guided Tours and Focused Field Trips for the 2016–2017 school year are now open. We’d love to see you! Click here to submit a request.
Guided Tours are supported in part by the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department. Visit Austin at NowPlayingAustin.com.